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Soft tissue injuries of the tarsocrural joint: A retrospective analysis of 30 cases evaluated arthroscopically


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Reasons for performing the study

Intra-articular soft tissue injuries of the equine tarsocrural joint have been poorly defined.


All horses that underwent arthroscopic surgery of a tarsocrural joint over a 10 year period were identified. Those with primary intra-articular soft tissue injuries were selected for inclusion and the cases evaluated retrospectively.


Two hundred and eighty-one horses underwent tarsocrural joint arthroscopy during the study period, 30 of which met the inclusion criteria (30 joints). A combination of soft tissue lesions was more common than injury to a single structure. Injuries involved the joint capsule (n = 25), collateral ligaments (n = 20), dorsal plica (n = 8) and open communication between the tarsocrural joint and extensor bundle (n = 7). Following arthroscopic surgery and rehabilitation, 81% of horses were able to return to their previous function.


Intra-articular soft tissue injuries of the tarsocrural joint may be associated with localising clinical signs of inflammation. This series represented 11% of the total number of arthroscopic procedures undertaken on that joint in a single referral hospital. Arthroscopic surgery allows accurate definition of the injuries and facilitates lesion management. Case outcome following arthroscopic debridement and a subsequent period of rehabilitation is favourable.

Potential relevance

In lame horses with clinical signs localised to the tarsocrural joint, disrupted intra-articular soft tissues should be considered in the list of differential diagnoses. Attending clinicians should consider arthroscopic evaluation in cases where primary intra-articular soft tissue injuries are suspected to be causative.